PBS Celebrates Pride Month With PRIDELAND One-Hour Special & Digital Series

PBS is celebrating LGTBQ+ Pride Month with the launch of PRIDELAND a new one-hour special and short-form digital series following host and actor Dyllón Burnside (from FX’s Pose) on a journey across the South.

The six-episode, short-form series will launch on PBS Voices, a new documentary-focused YouTube Channel by PBS Digital Studios, beginning Thursday, May 26.

A one-hour companion special, also hosted by Burnside, will premiere on Friday, June 12 at 9:00 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS, PBS.org and the PBS Video App.

PBS will also air an encore presentation of The Lavender Scare, the gripping documentary that tells the untold story of how tens of thousands of homosexual federal workers were either fired or denied employment in the 1950s, stirring outrage in the gay community and starting an LGBTQ rights movement with an unlikely hero at the forefront.

The acclaimed documentary (winner of 16 awards for Best Documentary) will air on PBS on Friday, June 12 at 10:00 p.m. ET.

Former PBS NewsHour Anchor Jim Lehrer Dead At 85

Jim Lehrer (image via PBS)

Veteran news anchor Jim Lehrer, who co-founded and helmed the PBS NewsHour for 36 years before retiring in 2011, passed away in his sleep on Thursday at his home in Washington. He was 85.

From the New York Times:

While best known for his anchor work, which he shared for two decades with his colleague Robert MacNeil, Mr. Lehrer moderated a dozen presidential debates and was the author of more than a score of novels, which often drew on his reporting experiences. He also wrote four plays and three memoirs.

A low-key, courtly Texan who worked on Dallas newspapers in the 1960s and began his PBS career in the 1970s, Mr. Lehrer saw himself as “a print/word person at heart” and his program as a kind of newspaper for television, with high regard for balanced and objective reporting.

He was an oasis of civility in a news media that thrived on excited headlines, gotcha questions and noisy confrontations.

In 2001, Lehrer shared with The American Journalism Review he might be viewed as old-fashioned for believing “news is not a commodity.”

“News is information that’s required in a democratic society, and Thomas Jefferson said a democracy is dependent on an informed citizenry. That sounds corny, but I don’t care whether it sounds corny or not. It’s the truth.”

RIP Jim Lehrer.

Trailer: Fred Rogers Biopic “A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood”

Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers in ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ (image via IMDB)

From a time when decency and empathy were still admired, check out the new trailer for the upcoming Fred Rogers biopic, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

Inspired by an article penned by Tom Junod for Esquire (“Can You Say…Hero?”), two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks portrays Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) in a timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Rogers and Junod.

The official longline reads: “After a jaded magazine writer (Emmy winner Matthew Rhys) is assigned a profile of Fred Rogers, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about empathy, kindness, and decency from America’s most beloved neighbor.”

Earlier this year, it came to light that Rogers referred to himself as sexually fluid.

According to Maxwell King’s 2018 biography of Rogers, The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, the TV host and puppeteer is quoted from a conversation with one of his friends, Dr. William Hirsch, regarding his own sexuality as saying, “Well, you know, I must be smack in the middle. Because I have found women attractive, and I have found men attractive.”

In theaters November 22.

An Independence Day Celebration For All Americans Tonight On PBS

While the Defense Department scrambles to make Donald Trump's 'ego rally' come to fruition, I want to make sure you all know that the REAL 4th of July celebration - A Capitol Fourth - is still happening across Washington D.C. tonight at 8/7c on PBS.

While the Defense Department scrambles to make Donald Trump’s ‘ego rally’ come to fruition, I want to make sure you all know that the REAL 4th of July celebration – A Capitol Fourth – is still happening across Washington D.C. tonight at 8/7c on PBS.

Live from the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol, the annual concert celebrating America’s birthday pays special tribute to American military heroes and their families.

Among the performers this year are Colbie Caillat, Carole King, Keala Settle, and Vanessa Williams.

Hosted by John Stamos, the show also features the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jack Everly, the Choral Arts Society of Washington, the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” and the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets.

The finale includes fireworks and Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” complete with cannon fire.

Click here for more info and to confirm air times in your area.

Alabama Public Television Bans Gay Wedding Episode Of Long-Running ‘Arthur’

Alabama Public Television (APT) decided the same-sex wedding was too much for its intended audience to handle, and refused to air the episode. Instead, APT chose to air a re-run.
Mr. Ratburn and Patrick head down the aisle (image via PBS)

The long-running PBS children’s show, Arthur, opened its 22nd season last week with an episode featuring one of the animated characters marrying to his male partner.

In an episode titled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” it turns out that Arthur’s stern yet forgiving 3rd grade teacher is gay, and marries his boyfriend, Patrick.

The storyline was celebrated by LGBTQ advocacy groups like GLAAD:

While the episode doesn’t mention the word “gay” or “homosexual,” I did wonder if some folks might be offended or raise their homophobic voices in opposition to two animated characters finding happiness together.

Yep. And some of those folks are in Alabama.

Alabama Public Television (APT) decided the same-sex wedding was too much for its intended audience to handle, and refused to air the episode. Instead, APT chose to air a re-run.

Yes, this is the same Alabama where public lawmakers just passed a law which will require a 13-year-old rape victim to carry a possible child to term.

Mike McKenzie, the director of programming at APT, confirmed to NBC News that upon receiving an alert from PBS in mid-April about “possible concerns about the content of the program,” APT felt it was best to omit the episode from their schedule.

“Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate, and inspire,” Mike McKenzie, director of programming at APT, said in a statement.

“More importantly—although we strongly encourage parents to watch television with their children and talk about what they have learned afterwards—parents trust that their children can watch APT without their supervision,” continued McKenzie. “We also know that children who are younger than the ‘target’ audience for Arthur also watch the program.”

“The vast majority of parents will not have heard about the content, whether they agree with it or not,” added McKenzie. “Because of this, we felt it would be a violation of trust to broadcast the episode.”

(image via PBS)

Interestingly, one parent heard about the LGBTQ-inclusive episode and recorded the show with plans to watch with her 9-year-old daughter. But Misty Souder told AL.com that she was disappointed to only find a re-run on her DVR.

Souder says she contacted APT about the censorship, and used the experience as a teaching moment for her daughter about the importance of standing up for others.

“I just want her to be aware,” Souder explained to AL.com. “There’s too much going on not to stand up for stuff, even if it’s Arthur. I never thought I’d be going to battle for a gay rat wedding, but here we are.”

This isn’t APT’s first time to censor PBS’s Arthur.

In a 2005 episode, a bunny character named Buster visited a girl who was revealed to have two mothers.

Yep – APT pulled that installment, too.

According to AL.com, then-executive director of APT Allan Pizzato explained, “Our feeling is that we basically have a trust with parents about our programming.”

“This program doesn’t fit into that,” he added.

Watch the full episode featuring Mr. Ratburn’s wedding HERE.

News Round-Up: May 20, 2019

Bruno Tarchetti (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

• Personal trainer and InstaHunk Bruno Tarchetti is today’s Monday Man Crush. #furrygoodness

• Twenty-three year-old Muhlaysia Booker, a Black transgender woman who was beaten in front of several bystanders last month, was fatally shot in Dallas on May 18. She is the 4th transgender person to be killed in the U.S. in 2019.

• Alabama Public Television refused to air an episode of the animated children’s show, Arthur, which featured the character ‘Mr. Ratburn’ marrying his male partner, Patrick.

• FX’s groundbreaking series Pose was honored over the weekend with a Peabody Award, which recognizes “when storytelling is done well; when stories matter.”

• Cathay Pacific Airline has a new ad campaign that’s LGBTQ-inclusive.

• Thousands marched through Belfast in Northern Ireland demanding marriage equality. Northern Ireland is the only region in the United Kingdom which has not legalized same-sex marriage.

#FBF – The Electric Company

A friend on Facebook just shared this and it took me back. Waaaay back.

Oh yes, I grew up on PBS shows like The Electric Company, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and Zoom 🙂

Good times.

And how about that cast for The Electric Company? Academy Award winners Rita Moreno and Morgan Freeman? Plus Irene Cara, Mel Brooks and Zero Mostel? Dang, we had it good.

The show ran for 780 episodes from 1971 – 1977.

Watch the zippy show intro below.